Extra-marital relationships that are occur during your divorce proceedings can have a huge impact on your divorce case in Georgia. I recently read a book called the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. Whether you are married, single, trying to figure out how to save your marriage, or figuring out why you are getting divorced, this is a highly recommended book that discusses the different ways people perceive and feel love as well as the different ways that people express love to their significant other (or future significant others as the case may be). Dr. Chapman discusses the “in love” feeling that couples experience. The “in love” period is one in which your significant other can do no wrong and one in which every day and every action revolves around your significant other. Decisions are made to best allow you and your significant other to be together. Waiting to see your significant other again can feel like an eternity. Many of us remember this feeling and can relate to the feeling and belief that “our love is unstoppable!”
As an Atlanta Divorce Attorney, I want to discuss this “in love” feeling you may have for someone other than your soon-to-be-ex. Clients who have found themselves in an extramarital relationship or very much looking forward to engaging in one will often hear our Atlanta Divorce Attorneys recommend that they not date until the divorce is final. We advise our clients this way for a number of reasons in addition to the obvious moral implications.
First, engaging in an extramarital relationship can have an adverse impact on your impending divorce case. If you are a spouse seeking alimony, adultery can bar your claim for alimony.Additionally, it can sometimes effect equitable division.
Second, we recommend that clients do not make decisions pertaining to your divorce while in the “in love” period. Too often clients feel so overly confident about their new relationship that they forget to think about the possibility that the new relationship may not last. The decisions made at this time tend to assume that the new significant other will be around to provide in the event that something does not go as planned in their divorce. For example, clients may not seek as much alimony thinking that they will marry their new significant other and will not need the alimony. Clients may also walk away from more of the marital estate than they should have to simply get the divorce over as quickly as possible so they can re-marry their new love. It is important not to let the “in-love” feeling cloud your judgment during the pendency of your divorce case.
Third, the difference between a less expensive divorce and a very expensive divorce tends to boil down to one thing: emotion. Infidelity, the idea of infidelity, even the possibility or appearance of infidelity is often enough to turn a relatively inexpensive divorce into a very expensive, highly contested case.
My last bit of advice is for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, please be mindful of these issues and use common sense when deciding whether to go out to dinner, send flowers, or send gifts to a new significant other if you are still married. Credit card statements and bank account statements can be subpoenaed. It is possible that you are being taped, recorded, or otherwise followed by a Private Investigator. If you have a new significant other and are currently in the middle of a divorce case, this Atlanta Divorce Attorney recommends that the celebration of your new love wait until after a Judge has signed your Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce!
By Emily Yu, Associate Attorney, Meriwether & Tharp, LLC